By Sumith Jhawar (Twitter | Instagram)

Pathaan is 2023’s first much anticipated big Bollywood release starring one of the most historically dependent stars in Hindi cinema. His last few movies range from strictly ordinary to outright awful, only exception being ‘Dear Zindagi’, so there has been a lot riding on this movie for Shah Rukh Khan and Hindi cinema in general.

Pathaan’s basic storyline is the beaten to death India-Pakistan dosti-dushmani, terrorist makes a big plan only to be neutralised by a literal one-man army/agency. Deepika is an ISI agent who never seems to be on one side. John does what John does best – being a single tone, muscle flexing, wooden looking villain, the same combination which shot him into stardom in Dhoom (2004) and he has been typecast into similar roles ever since.

A lot of the budget has been splurged on visuals in terms of only the locations. Honestly, do those locations still qualify as exotic? Are we still wowed by drone shots of Spain and Russia? I know I am not. There are too many set pieces which are ridiculous like the jet-pack scene, the frozen river scene or the whole lock and key of the vault stealing episode. It could’ve worked if you are kept hooked onto your seat by characters like in the recent Tamil joyride ‘Vikram’. The side characters of Pathaan are just fillers who service their brief purpose and are bumped off soon after.

An action movie works for me when the action is novel coupled with smart humour or strong emotional connect. A perfect example being the Avengers series which was high on action as well as humour and emotional quotient. Pathaan fails in both departments. The humour was cringy and the supposedly emotional scenes ended up being unintentionally funny. Sample this: SRK asking a Russian sex-worker if she wants to make some extra ‘boobles’ when she bends down to reveal her cleavage.

Full marks to Shah Rukh for all the hard work put in to execute the hand-to-hand combat scenes which are showcased exquisitely in his intro and the post-interval train sequence featuring a thrilling cameo by Salman Khan. Of the 2.5 hours in the film, I only enjoyed the half an hour – the start, the post-interval scene, and the post credits scene featuring a brilliant exchange between the two Khans about how the country (Bollywood) cannot be trusted in the hands of the next generation because they lack the charisma of the old lot.

One can’t help but feel that Bollywood is still suffering from a lack of good writing and relatability, things money can’t buy. The wait for an original, wholesomely enjoyable Bollywood film continues.

Subscribe to our Podcast show by the same name on YouTube.

Listen To – 5 Reasons To Stream ‘Trial By Fire’ On Netflix